Encouragement. What a powerful word! I bet you can recall a time when you were on the receiving end of a strength-centered compliment. Imagine how it made you feel. Imagine how it filled you with renewed energy to meet the task of ministry.
The opposite of encouragement is DIScouragement. Also a very powerful word. Chances are, you have already put yourself down or struggled with a perplexing issue today. I urge you to think about that. Think again about Who you serve, Whose you are.
To point out the absurdity of discouragement in the life of a church leader who serves the Almighty God of the universe, consider how the Bible might read if it were turned upside down and inside out. It may read a little something like this:
- Let your hearts be troubled. Don’t trust in God; neither trust in me. In my Father’s house are a limited number of rooms; if it were not so, I still wouldn’t tell you. I am going there to prepare a place just for me. And if I go and prepare a place for me, I will not come back nor take you to be with me just to be sure you are not where I am. You don’t know the way to the place where I am going. (Un-John 14)
- Be weak and fearful. Be afraid and terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes without you; he will leave you as well as forsake you. (Un-Deuteronomy 31)
- Brothers, I consider myself to have taken hold of it. And one thing I do: Lamenting over what was behind and meandering toward what is ahead, I haphazardly stumble toward the goal ultimately to lose the prize anyway which God has unrealistically called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. (Un-Philippians 3)
- Stay away from me, all you who are weary and burdened, ‘cause I have no rest to give you. Stay away from my yoke and don’t learn from me for I am too gentle and humble in heart for you, and you would not find rest for your souls anyway. My yoke is easy and my burden is light (but you will never know it). (Un-Matthew 11)
- Be anxious about everything, and in everything without prayer or petition, being ungrateful, keep your requests to yourself. (Un-Philippians 4)
- Let us become weary in doing good, for at no time will we reap a harvest because we have given up. (Un-Galatians 6)
Strange to read, huh? But I bet you know a colleague who spends all their time looking down at the ground when Christ is up above? Their abundance mentality has given way to a more powerful scarcity mentality. They carry a virtual backpack of unnecessary baggage on their shoulders – droopy in physique, droopy in word.
Does this describe you today? If so, I challenge you to go back to these verses of Scripture in the real Bible. Find a quiet spot. Sit comfortably in a chair. Take a few deep breaths. Close your eyes and breathe a simple prayer. Read each passage slowly, allowing discouragement to ebb away and His Spirit to flow into your soul. Allow His peace to wash over you, wave after wave.
If you know a colleague who is struggling with discouragement, perhaps you could be a beacon in their life and share this post with them. Commit to support them in prayer as they journey their lonely road back to health.
Now, for those who are still determined to be discouraged about their assignment, hang on. Tomorrow, Part 2 of this series will show how you can put discouragement to practice!